Doctors with ASD Want to Reframe How Neurodevelopmental Conditions Are Viewed

August 09, 2021

Instead of Viewing as a Disorder, Difference and Diversity is Preferred 

A letter written by Autistic Doctors International suggests changing how autism is viewed in both clinical and academic settings. The group, made up of 300 doctors on the spectrum, was assembled to focus on autism advocacy, support, and research. Their recent letter, published in the August edition of The Lancet, examines the debate between a medical view on autism and a social view. The discussion between these two opposing views has been visible in both academic literature as well as a popular society for many years. However, these doctors offer a unique perspective on the topic since they are physicians and trained to practice in conventional medical models but are also individuals that have autism. The group expresses concern that traditional medical views on autism give too much attention to an individual’s physical or mental deficits and limitations. They see this approach as unbalanced since there is no recognition of strengths that can sometimes come with the diagnosis. The group also feels the lack of this acknowledgment can perpetuate an autism diagnosis as only bad news that may promote stigma and shame. Alternatively, they prefer the more social, neurodiversity view on autism which the group views as one that focuses on difference and diversity.  They also explain in their letter that as autistic professionals, they navigate social and environmental challenges and barriers while relying on their strengths associated with their diagnosis, like resilience and attention to detail. Another letter published earlier this year in The Lancet expressed similar views. The authors of this letter suggest that clinicians should embrace neurodiversity and view neurodevelopmental conditions as alternative ways of thinking rather than brain disorders. 

August Letter

May Letter

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